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As a caregiver of an aging loved one your days are long and filled with responsibilities. Taking care of yourself is at the end of the list – and it stays there. You may feel run down, lethargic and like you are burning the candle at both ends. These are some of the symptoms caregiver stress and burnout and you should pay close attention to them. If you fall into full-fledged burnout it will significantly impact your ability to care for your loved one.
46% of caregivers suffer from depression, just one of the signs of caregiver burnout
- Getting little or no satisfaction from care giving
- Becoming increasingly impatient / irritable with the person you’re caring for
- Having less energy than you once had
- Constantly feeling sick and rundown
- Constantly exhausted even though you sleep at night
- Neglecting your own needs because you’re too busy or you don’t care anymore
- Feeling helpless and hopeless
There are ways to address these feelings and regain your energy with simple, common sense strategies. If you are suffering from burnout, some of these suggestions may seem impossible to carry out. You really have no choice – ignoring it could risk your ability to care for your loved one.
See a doctor
Make an appointment to see your doctor. There may be underlying causes for your fatigue like high or low blood pressure or high or low blood sugar. Your doctor can help you get back on track to good health.
Exercise a little every day
You don’t have to go to the gym. Take a little walk, go for a quick jog, put on some music and dance inside the house. Moving, even just a little will increase the amount of oxygen in your heart, lungs and brain and will help you to feel better immediately. Regular exercise worked into your daily routine will boost energy levels and help fight fatigue.
Learn to meditate
This doesn’t mean that you have to go to a mountain top retreat! It can be something as simple as finding a quiet spot every day for 5 or 10 minutes of quiet reflection and deep breathing. When your loved one takes a nap, sit in a chair and practice deep breathing for relaxation. Find a beginner’s Yoga practice online – yoga will relax your muscles, your mind and improve your energy levels.
Eat well for more energy
Feed your body with healthy food that will fuel your energy. Fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lean protein, and healthy fats such as nuts and olive oil will give you steady energy.
Get a good night’s sleep
Using the hours when you should be sleeping for other tasks will actually give you diminishing returns. You need 8 hours of sleep a night. When you get less, your mood, energy, productivity, and ability to handle stress will suffer.
Caregivers spend most of their time caring for their loved ones, which can create an opening for stress, fatigue and breakdowns. Preventing caregiver burnout is essential. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and can relate to any of these points, it might be time to consider how you can get help.